Album Title: Huldrafolk
Label: Millennium Metal Music
This is the second full-length album from Wyrd, a Finnish band playing folky black metal.
The backing guitar on this album is somewhat obscure and distant, though the lead parts come in loud and clear. Drumming is very simple and mid-paced, for the most part. This album has a lot of background synth, of the floating, Burzum variety. The vocals are snarled, and are quite understandable. Nature samples are frequent, but never annoying.
This is easily the best of Wyrd's albums, in terms of songwriting. Each song has a memorable theme, around which the band builds a number of variations. The mood of the album is stately and epic, with a few more aggressive moments. "Ashes of Man and Oak and Pine" is epic and deeply atmospheric, with a great guitar theme. The false stop and slower section at the end is particularly notable.
"Aijeke" is one of the most spirited and heavy pagan-style songs I've ever heard. The intro sets up the mood, and then the main riff drives it home over and over again. Just amazing! I'd put the songwriting here on par with Bathory's Viking-metal period, in terms of originality and memorability.
"Pale Forest" alternates between quick-step passages and mid-paced atmospheric work, with a few solos in the mix. The bass interlude a couple of minutes in is especially great. The transitions are woth mentioning, too: Wyrd goes from a blasting section with overlaid chants straight into a rollicking, vicious mid-paced riff, with no hesitation.
"Huldrafolk" starts out slow, with a delicate acoustic guitar piece that seems to recall earlier themes of the album. Despite the gentle intro, the song itself is an angry, blasting chunk of repetitive black metal. The keys on this one take on much of the melody, leaving the guitar to saw in the background. Cool break in the middle, as well.
"Misanthrope's Masterplan" is the album's second epic, at roughly thirteen minutes long. It starts off with birdsong and acoustic guitar, then adds some synth before breaking into metal. This part of the song mixes acoustic and electric guitar throughout, creating a melancholy feeling. The synth break at the halfway mark separates the quietude of the opening half from the grandiose anger of the closing, which features some nice bass lines.
"The Harvest Day" is close to "Huldrafolk" in tone, with plenty of raging speed. The chorus is a testament to anti-Christian anger, and the clashing cymbals seem to echo the sentiment. The song fades out into a mournful synth line, which itself gives way to the sound of a storm at sea.
"Huldrafolk" is a modern black metal classic, as far as I'm concerned. Every note is perfectly placed, and the album is wonderfully evocative of nature. On top of that, there's just the right amount of heaviness to keep the listener engaged. Wyrd's other work is great, but this one tops everything from "Heathen" and their early work as Hellkult, on through to "Vargtimmen" parts one and two. Get this at any cost. Highest recommendations!
Standout Tracks: "Aijeke", "Pale Forest", "Misanthrope's Masterplan"